I had only read the first seven pages of the thread, when I knew I wanted to visit Marquess and I wanted one shoe in particular; the chisel. I sent an email to Shoji and he responded a couple days later (he was on vacation) that we could meet on his return to work, which was May 13. In the meantime, I visited several other stores such as WFG, Isetan, Trading Post, among others. I went to GofC, but it was closed as it was a Tuesday on my visit.
At Isetan they had several pairs of Fukuda’s MTO (apparently made in the exact same method as his bespoke). I know a lot of people here described them as drop dead gorgeous, but in reality, they were DROP…….DEAD…….GORGEOUS! I couldn’t get over how amazing these shoes really were to see in person, everything from the shape of the last and waist to the quality of the leather and the antiquing, they were truly out of this world. Having visited Cleverly for the first time back in February, I feel comfortable enough to say that the quality here was definitely superior. Disclaimer; I did not commission any bespoke at Cleverly, I only examined their samples and bought a pair of AC’s. So my comment above is obviously only based on the quality of the finishing, not on fit. At Isetan, they also had in a glass case a couple of old bespoke samples made by the great Anthony Cleverly himself. They were his chiseled toe design and looked amazing.
Finally the 13th rolled around and I made my way to the Kawaguchi’s home/shop, which is located in a residential area and thanks to Google maps, it was easy to find. I know a lot has been written here about how nice both Yuriko and Shoji are, but I must reiterate it. They oozed kindness and friendliness and even brought out some nice chilled tea for us to drink (my wife and brother also came along). We chatted for a little bit about how I came to hear about Marquess (Last, SF), where I was from (Canada) and about several other things that were not related to shoes. It was a very relaxed atmosphere, but then it was time to get down to business. It was time to see the shoes and I gotta say, they were AMAZING! Pictures rrrreeeeaaaaalllllyyyyy don’t do these shoes justice. They are perfect. And by perfect, I mean the finishing was perfect, the stiching/welt was perfect, the leather used was perfect, the balance/last was perfect, the waist treatment was perfect. For me though, of all their shoes, the chisel was the greatest. This sucker is just really gut wrenching to see in person (the good kind of gut wrenching!). I can’t even explain what makes them so great, they just are.
This being my first bespoke experience, I obviously cannot compare it to anything, but when it came time to measure my foot, Shoji was very meticulous. All in all, it took about 45minutes to an hour until he was satisfied. At one point, Shoji asked me to remove my socks so that he could do a visual inspection of my feet. I am not sure if this is always done by other shoe makers, but I thought it was interesting.
In the end, I decided on a blind brogue with a beveled waist. It’s the same shoe design as the chiseled sample, but I chose it in a colour called Antique Ocher.
I asked where some of his customers were from and he told me that almost all are from Asia (Japan to be specific) and that one was from Scandinavia, another from England and another from somewhere else which I don’t recall. I realized after reading this entire thread, that those he listed were most likely the SF members who posted in this thread. I am not sure how exhaustive his list was, but I am his first Canadian customer, and likely his first North American client.
They will send in October my sample shoes, which I will wear for a month or two before I visit them in January. So, I will keep everyone posted on how it all turns out. After almost two hours, we bid them farewell and I look forward to seeing them again.
A very big thanks to Nutcracker and BespokeMakers and really to everyone that has contributed to this thread, keep up the good work. Having read the entire thread, I feel very confident about how the final product will turn out, but I guess in the end, only time will tell. If you consider yourself a shoe aficionado, but have never been to Japan to check out their offerings, you really are doing yourself a huge disservice. You can’t say that you have seen it all, shoe wise anyway, until you visit Japan.
I have attached a photo below. I didn’t ask, but I may be Marquess’ first client to ever arrive for an appointment in a t-shirt and shorts! Heck, I wasn’t even wearing socks that day because I was wearing moc’s, so I had to borrow my brothers. It was humid, so I didn’t feel like wearing a sport coat and trousers.
I'm the Scandinavian :D
Waiting for my trial pair to arrive sometime in June. Going for my next fitting in the middle of August. The chisel looks great yes.
I went with Marquess round for the first pair, but might try Marquess square for the inevitable second.